Cecil B DeMented | 2000
Not as deliriously funny as it might have been, though still lots of fun, shockmeister John Waters’ attack on Hollywood ‘family’ values (the Baltimore-set sequel Gump Again is the stuff of nightmares) turns out to be an homage to Baltimore’s surviving, at the time, movie theatres.
In town to publicise a picture, flouncy Hollywood star Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith) stays at Baltimore’s prestigious Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore, 550 Light Street at Inner Harbor.
She’s kidnapped by the crew of messianic director-wannabe Cecil B DeMented (Stephen Dorff) from the glutinous benefit premiere of Some Kind Of Happiness at the Senator Theatre, 5904 York Road, way north of the city centre toward Anneslie at Belvedere Avenue.
Both Waters himself and Barry Levinson premiere most of their films at this picture house, which features a ‘walk of fame’ celebrating local cinematic accomplishments on its forecourt. The Senator can also be seen in Barry Levinson movies Diner and Avalon, as well as Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys.
The abandoned hideout of DeMented’s Sprocket Holes crew was the old dilapidated Hippodrome, now happily spruced up as the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, 12 North Eutaw Street.
One venue that’s already gone is Grand Theatre, which stood at 508 South Conkling Street, outside which the Sprocket Holes clash with the director’s bête noire – a vocal ‘family’ audience. One of Baltimore's great old theaters, the Grand, dating back to 1911 was demolished in 2003, though its marquee, box office and some interior features have apparently been salvaged.
The guerillas recruit action fans to fight off the family audience from a karate marathon at the 1930 Patterson Theater, 3134 Eastern Avenue. The Patterson, which boasts the only traditional vertical marquee lit by bulbs left in Baltimore, was reopened as a multi-purpose arts centre by the Creative Alliance in 2003.
Porn fans face off against Teamsters in the Apex, 110 South Broadway, Fell's Point, which is hosting the delightful sounding ‘All-anal evening’.
CB gets his final shot, and goes out in a blaze of glory, at Bengie’s Drive-In Theatre, 3417 Eastern Boulevard, out in Middle River, to the east of Baltimore.
Bengie’s, which offers triple features on almost every Friday and Saturday night, along with classic cartoons, vintage trailers and intermissions clips, and Dusk-till-Dawn shows, claims to have the largest movie theatre screen in the USA, measuring 52 feet high and 120 feet wide.